Since we have had our lovely plot we have come to know the land and how things grow etc. We had one piece of land that was very ‘claggy’ (not sure where The Husband got that word from!). Basically we couldn’t grow anything in it because it was too wet. So, The Husband did a bit of research and decided that we would grow a patch of Willow for cultivating.
When we mentioned this to fellow allotmenteers we got a lot of negative feedback because it was believed that we would let it grow out of control. This is not the case, we coppice it every year, sometimes leaving a few on to get thicker stockier (Me – weeble!) sticks. The willow is also great for wildlife, the buds for the birds, the early pollen provides food for many insects including moths. We quite often see a Robin bobbing about and a few other birds sitting right at the top of the canes.
We have used the Willow to make sweet pea frames, broad bean climbers, a frame for a dahlia bed and general supports. We have even made some peony supports which lasted two years, all for free. Well I say free, we got 24 winter collection willow cuttings for £18.10, but can you imagine how much a proper willow sweet pea frame would be at the local garden centre ? I think it has more than paid for itself. We planted them in size rows i.e the tallest at the back, we did hope for more reds but they are mainly yellow. We put some good quality weed matting down, this is still going strong – The Husband picked this up, quite a large roll from a charity shop for a fiver, on the way to get his hair cut for our wedding!!!! We also fenced it in because Rabbits love a bit of new willow. Coppicing is easy if you are strong! You basically cut it all back to within a cm of the main stem, job done. Our allotment neighbour has since had some cuttings from us and they are doing marvellous.
Feel a bit fed up today, it is too cold to sit in the poly tunnel,The Husband has gone to the plot. Roll on the 25.02.15 – when hopefully I can get on with my life!
Enjoy it if you are out in it you lucky people.